Kayah Civilians Starve as Myanmar Junta Blocks Supply Routes: Charity

By The Irrawaddy 16 March 2022

Three main roads to Demoso in Kayah State are blocked by fighting between Myanmar’s resistance and regime forces amid reports of widespread hunger.

Fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and regime forces is reported on the roads to Bago Region and Taunggyi and Moebye, which are both in Shan State.

The regime forces started attacks on the Moebye road in February, in an apparent attempt to isolate Demoso.

“All the roads connecting Demoso are blocked. There is intense fighting around the township. The regime fires around 100 artillery rounds a day,” said a Karenni Nationalities Defense Force representative.

The fighting is close to camps for displaced civilians and food is scarce, according to the Karenni Refugees Support Network.

“Some camps have no rice. They are forced to eat unhealthy corn that was used to brew alcohol. They search for leaves in the forest and boil them without oil,” said a Karenni Refugees Support Network spokesman.

He also said water is scarce.

Displaced people in Kayah State are dependent for food on civil society organizations, donations from expat communities and from elsewhere in Myanmar.

The spokesman said he asked the National Unity Government for help but had not received a reply and international aid was taking too to arrive.

“We don’t have time. If we wait, people will starve. This is an emergency. Some children are suffering malnutrition,” he said.

Attacks on displacement camps mean many civilians sought shelter in the forests, increasing food shortages.

Since February around 600 regime soldiers from 66, 55 and 99 divisions were deployed in Demoso.

Villagers who remain in their homes are being tortured, killed and used as human shields, according to resistance groups. When regime forces pass, they burn villages and airstrikes and artillery to attack villages and displacement camps, residents say.

On Feb. 24, junta airstrikes killed two civilians and injured four villagers in the township.

Demoso is seen as strategically important because of its proximity to Naypyitaw.

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